According to a report by the NRDC, the United States wastes a staggering 40% of all food produced. That works out to $165 billion of uneaten food each year! Organic matter is the largest solid component of our landfills, and between unsold produce and tossed meals, we glut our dumps and fritter away precious resources. Luckily, some enterprising chefs and bloggers are working towards changing attitudes and practices towards how we treat what we eat.
Culinary Misfits- Hailing from Germany, catering company Culinary Misfits uses fruits and vegetables that the supermarkets and restaurants reject. Misshapen or discolored, the produce is still perfectly good, and suited for such meals as “crooked parsnip” or “twisted cucumber soup”. Founded by Lea Emma Brumsack and Tanja Krakowski, the duo began their careers studying product design. After becoming interested in the urban consumerism and the waste surrounding food production, they opened their business in 2012. Presenting their creations on rescued thrift store dishes, the Culinary Misfits transform unloved vegetables into delicious fare.
Waste Cooking- Usually, you associate reality TV with gross-out antics and poor social behavior. Yet, in Waste Cooking, enterprising dumpster divers and chefs look to Austria’s organic waste bins for materials to make amazing meals. Creator and director David Gross was appalled at the amount of perfectly good food he found chucked into the trash of his native country, and decided that he needed to do something to publicize the nearly 105,000 tons Austrians discarded each year. The episodes, which can be found online through their website, begin with divers roaming the streets by bicycle at night to “shop” for their ingredients. Later, blogger and cook Tobias Judmaier crafts the produce, meats, and cheeses into meals presented in a public place. Upon learning the food’s origins, some are enticed, others are disgusted, but all are more aware of their consumption habits.
GleanSLO- A little closer to home, GleanSLO takes advantage of the bounty of the Central Coast and harvests unwanted fruits and vegetables around the county for the SLO Food Bank. A group of dedicated volunteers gather at farms for a couple of hours throughout the week and donate their time and labor to help feed to hungry. In addition to the feeling of a job well done, participants also get to meet their fellow community members and often take home excess food for themselves. The farmers get a tax credit and cleanup, empty stomachs get healthy and high-quality groceries, and gleaners get a great workout and some treats to take with them.